Partners in Care: Supporting Fussy Babies in Child Care


Infant child care teachers play a unique and vital role for fami- lies. Child care teachers may be the first person other than family whom parents trust to care for their infant. Infant teachers may also be the parents’ primary support during the baby’s first year, especially during the stressful transition time of returning to work and bringing their infant to care.

Parents who have had a rough start with their new baby bring a heightened need for the support, sensitivity, and competence of the infant teacher and the infant classroom. Parents of fussy babies— babies who cry easily or a lot and are hard to settle—are among those families who may need extra support from their infant child care center.

We have learned from our work with parents of fussy babies that they often experience great emotional stress, physical exhaustion, and a loss of confidence in themselves as good parents. Because they have struggled to take care of their baby, they worry that other caregivers will also struggle, lose patience, or not like their baby. As parents get ready to return to work, they may also be grieving over having to leave their young infant in care, as well as be wor- ried that their baby will come to love the teacher more than them.

These parents need you—their baby’s teacher and the caregiving team—to help them through the transition from home to group care. At the same time, infant teachers know that when a fussy
baby comes into childcare, teachers will also need extra support. Infant program directors play an important role in seeing that everybody’s needs are met.

Partners in Care: Supporting Fussy Babies in Child Care was developed to support infant child care teachers and infant program directors in their special role with fussy babies and their families. The quotes that you will see were taken from focus groups with infant teachers and parents who shared their experiences about life with a fussy baby.

Fussy babies present a unique challenge in group care. Some have frantic cries that can’t be soothed. Others are always on the edge of crying and want to be constantly held. Also, because they are hard to settle, fussy babies often have difficulties around sleeping, feeding, and daily routines

This resource contains important information on crying, sleep and routines that will help you settle infants into child care. On the back pages you will find tools that you can use with parents to begin communicating about their baby and their expectations for his or her care. Throughout this resource, you will find ways to strengthen your partnership with parents in this most important job of becoming partners in care for their baby.

Source: The Erikson Institute, Fussy Baby Network

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